Posted on September 9, 2016
Woman of the Past?
At a corner of the Roma castle and in a small hall where the Seal Chivalric Order’s investiture ceremony was carried out, was a “knight’s room”. Although the investiture ceremony hadn’t occurred once in these several years, this place wasn’t use for other official function.
Therefore, it was unprecedented that numerous people gathered in this “knight’s room”.
One of the leading actors was none other than the crown prince, Jeffren Isaac. Assembled on the prince’s flanks were the military minister Garido-kyou and his aides. Furthermore, the Chivalric Order’s vice leader Lucius Richternach was also present.
However, tying down such royal court’s authorities was this place’s other leading actor, the “oddball”— Amaddo Army Third Arsenal’s Chief Engineer Quique Albiol, who by rights, shouldn’t have been able to meet the crown prince easily.
The crown prince was arranging the roses in a vase on a table and Quique, who was standing before it in his usual slightly dirty white robe, polished his monocle and sighed.
Finding fault with Quique’s behaviour, Garido-kyou raised his eyebrows.
「—In the presence of His Highness, what kind of behaviour is this?!」
「Ah, iya…This is, maa…I’m originally a useless employee who’s not used to appearing before Your Eminences, so I’m not sure what behaviour will be good—」
To what extent was he serious? Quique bowed his head with a “pekori”.
Garido-kyou seemed about to say something more, but if he (Isaac) let the raucous minister speak here again, the talk wouldn’t proceed regardless of how much time has passed. While his pruning resounded with a “chakichaki”, Isaac reined in the minister and asked.
「Chief Engineer Albiol…is it?」
「That’s correct, Your Highness」
「There’s nothing to this, it isn’t a meeting to catechize you」
「I see. I thought that it’ll be an informal inquiry for sure」
Quique replied nonchalantly.
The crown prince mixed in a wry smile and whispered secretly to Lucius who was beside him.
「…I’ve the memory of seeing this (Quique’s behaviour) somewhere, albeit difficult to recall」
「I feel that the attitude of Dimitar who teases people is considerably influenced by this Chief Engineer-dono」
「Ah, Dimitar does take after him」
Isaac agreed with a self-satisfied look.
Lucius cleared his throat slightly and asked anew.
「—This has already been announced officially and I think you’ve heard about it, but a revolt occurred in Seriba a few day prior」
「Wasn’t it suppressed by Costacurta?」
「Yes. With the current efforts of Costacurta, the revolt didn’t spread to other lands and was suppressed in its initial stage…Nonetheless, we actually saw something that bothered us very much at that time」
「A magic that erases magic crests instantly—And, the gauntlet which makes it possible」
Putting his monocle back on, Quique frowned at Lucius’s words.
「The revolt in Seriba was caused by the incitement of a southern person called Hokon. That background is presently under investigation but it’s likely that someone provided that gauntlet to this man」
「The gauntlet that you mentioned, what kind of thing is it?」
「Unfortunately, the actual article couldn’t be retrieved, but according to His Highness’s report, it was a gauntlet applied with subtle magic crests. If a person who originally couldn’t use magic freely wears it, he will be able to use magic or so it seems」
Throwing out his old yet adequately thick chest, Garido-kyou spoke.
「…From what I heard, aren’t you doing a similar research? Magic engineering (Furigana: テクノロギア・マレフィカ) or something— 」
「Just a minute, Garido-kyou」
Isaac pointed the tip of the shears towards the military minister.
「Why’re you acting so high and mighty?」
「”From what I heard” you say, why are other people involved? If I remember correctly, aren’t you the military minister? That being the case, you should normally have a good grasp of what is being manufactured by the army’s workshop or what kind of research is going on shouldn’t you?」
「Er, that is, um—」
「Your Highness, it’s natural that minister-kakka has no knowledge of it」
Quique replied in place of Garido who had fallen silent from the prince’s words.
「In the first place, there wasn’t a decent budget allocated to my research. Although it’s called research, maa, it’s akin to my hobby and since funding is a necessity, I paid for it with my own money, that’s how it is, yes」
From Quique’s manner of speaking, it was as if to say that a detailed report wasn’t obligated since he didn’t receive the budget. Or, perhaps it might be a meagre sarcasm towards the top brass that doesn’t understand his research.
「Nonetheless, the fact that the army’s workshop is managed on the Chief Engineer’s individual finance is a problem in itself」
「Your, Your Highness, such a thing, if I may have a moment! Going out of your way to concern yourself with this is—」
「I presume Your Highness’s question is whether or not I can create a similar thing to that gauntlet?」
「Unless I see the actual article, it’s unfortunate but to be blunt…maa, it’s almost impossible」
「Impossible? As expected, it’s impossible huh」
「Rather, if such thing exists, I’d certainly like to see it for future reference. It’s pleasing to know that there’re people who devote their enthusiasm into magic engineering besides me」
「Then…is it someone else who made it and gave it to Hokon I wonder?」
「Your, Your Highness! It’s overly hasty to assume so! We’ve yet to search this man’s workshop!」
「Eh? Could it be that I’m under suspicion?」
Quique looked at Garido-kyou in amazement. It was fine for the minister who was somehow promoted from a military person to show fortitude and nerves of steel, but his way of thinking was severely lacking in flexibility. It’d be alright to let him command an army that was comprised of capable staff officers, but letting the person himself to draft strategies might be a considerable gamble.
Isaac waved his hand lightly to hush Garido-kyou and spoke to Quique.
「Maa, the possibility isn’t nil since the gauntlet’s origin is completely undetermined. Even Hokon’s subordinates totally don’t know from where and how their ringleader obtained that gauntlet」
「It’s unfortunate but like I said before, it’s beyond my capacity to make such thing」
「I understand. But if that’s the case…」
While Isaac was pouting his lips and ruminating, a page came along and notified him that there was someone requesting for an audience.
「An audience? With me? Who is it?」
「It’s Valeria Costacurta」
Isaac raised his eyebrows and spontaneously looked at Lucius.
At Bettina’s urging, Valeria arrived at the royal palace urgently and reflexively frowned upon seeing Dimitar who was standing at the decorated gate of the elegant garden. Though it was hard to say that Dimitar was affable, he had a visage that showed that he was in an exceptionally bad mood today. She had a premonition that prior to greetings, abusive words would fly towards her at the instance they met.
—Just when she thought so, it really did fly towards her.
「You’re late. Don’t take your own sweet time」
Although she anticipated it, Valeria furrowed her eyebrows at those unsparing words and approached Dimitar.
「You…That’s not how you speak to a person after calling her out abruptly right!? And I was even spending time leisurely at home! In the first place, for what reason did an exclusive crest officer like you call me for!?」
「Oi, don’t open your big mouth and shout so much. The soldier is watching」
Indeed, in the garden where the greenery and brick-paved paths drew symmetric patterns, palace guards could be seen here and there. Valeria noticed one of them gave her a respectful bow while standing at attention.
Valeria hurriedly shut her mouth, took off the mantle that she wore to avoid the public’s attention and straightened her dishevelled formal wear.
「…In any case, you should come personally if you’ve a business to take care of. Getting Bettina to call me, there’s a limit to your laziness!」
「Oi, Gacha Pink. You haven’t explain anything to her?」
「Y, yes. I only thought of meeting up with Valeria-sama immediately…」
「Your assistance is needed, though strictly speaking, it’s for this fellow and not me」
Hitting the top of Bettina’s helmet, Dimitar removed the sword hanging on his waist.
「Whatever, I’ll explain gradually. —Hold onto this and wait here while we enter the inner part of the royal palace」
「Un, understood! Please take care of Oji-sama~」
Dimitar entrusted his sword to Bettina, who was trembling and stamping her foot repeatedly to resist the urge to pee, and promptly proceeded for the royal palace’s interior.
「W, wait a moment! Richternach-kyou! What’s going on? This Oji-sama is?」
「He’s the army’s Chief Engineer and also Gachi Pink’s Oji-san, but it seems that he was marched off to the royal palace this morning. Gachi Pink said to get him back somehow and hoped for the awe-inspiring Your Eminence Costacruta to appear personally」
「This child’s Ojisan? Why on earth? Is he guilty of something?」
「He’s certainly eccentric, but he’s not a person who would do wicked deeds」
Entering the royal palace, a cool shadow fell on the vicinity and the pair’s footsteps resounded loudly. Even here, a considerable number of palace guards were protecting various places but excluding Dimitar, no one tried to stop Valeria’s advance. The status as a Dominas was special to that extent.
Dimitar continued speaking in an even lowered voice.
「…Did you write about Hokon’s gauntlet in the report of the Seriba’s case?」
「Eh? Of course. What about it?」
「You, did you perhaps use my Jagieruka as an example to explain that guy’s gauntlet? Going by that flow, it’s no wonder that he is personally questioned by the crown prince」
「Eh…? What kind of flow?」
「Think about it, since a person who can make useful tools of such irregularity happen to be near his esteemed self, the prince will try to ask about his story first. It might actually be a way of questioning I think」
「Way of questioning…is it?」
「Considering how soldiers raided the workshop and forcibly marched Ossan off, the prince probably held the suspicions that he is a spy of a force that is hostile to Amaddo or a collaborator」
「Then, we’re to dispel that doubt?」
「Ah. If he think calmly, it’ll be instantly clear that Ossan and the Seriba’s case are unrelated, since His Highness is an intelligent person contrary to the town’s impression. I doubt he’d think of Ossan as the criminal but there’re people who suspect Ossan. To get those fellows to understand and release Ossan, we’ve no choice but to elucidate on this and that…Or shall we return to Bettina and tell her that we can’t advocate for her uncle?」
As usual, he was a young man who says disagreeable things. She could ignore or rebut it if it was merely a verbal abuse, but the wicked part of Dimitar was that he was skilful in making an appeal to people’s feelings of guilt like this. Dimitar said such things on the expectation that Valeria wouldn’t take on an indifferent attitude towards Bettina whom she was acquainted with.
Dimitar indifferently raised the corners of his mouth and looked at the page that came trotting from their front.
「Don’t make such a sulky face. The other party is His Highness the crown prince you know? Besides, Lucius is probably there too」
Ridiculing Valeria’s quick change of attitude, Dimitar inspected his countenance and conveyed the purpose of Valeria’s application for an audience with the crown prince.
「Ple, please wait just a minute!」
The title of Dominas held approximately the same importance as a minister in this Amaddo’s royal court. Hence the page going back in a complete hurry that surpassed a trot might be a consequence of the fear from keeping Valeria waiting.
And it seemed that title even displayed its effect on the dignitaries that were assembled in the small hall. Without waiting for three minutes, the page from some time ago appeared soon again and guided the pair to the “knight’s room”.
「…If you’re unsure what to say, leave it to me without overdoing it」
Dimitar whispered softly so that it slipped into the sound of the door opening solemnly.
「—Since Bettina’ll cry if you make any careless remarks and worsen Ossan’s position. It seems like something you’d do though」
At Dimitar’s words which took people for fools, Valeria grasped the hem of her tabard tightly and suppressed her anger.
After giving a profound bow and raising his head, Dimitar somehow managed to read the flow of the place by observing the faces of those present singly.
Military minister Garido-kyou who had an unpleasant expression still held onto the conservative that cavalry and infantry were the focus of the battlefield, and didn’t think too well of the magic warriors (Furigana: マレフィコス) who possessed great power within the army. To say nothing of, Garido definitely wouldn’t try to show understanding towards Quique’s research which might enable ordinary people to use magic.
Presumably, the crown prince and Lucius were pacifying Garido-kyou who didn’t have a very favourable impression of Quique thus holding a suspicion that he was a spy—something like this perhaps? And the grin of Quique, who was the heart of the matter, when he saw Dimitar appeared, made him feel somewhat irritated.
For whose sake did he went out of the way just to come here, thought Dimitar. He quelled the urge to curse and looked down at Valeria with a sidelong glance.
Valeria finished her manual-like greetings and shifted her gaze around nervously. That being said, this lady wasn’t the type who’d become nervous in front of nobles; it was likely that she became tensed easily just by being before Lucius.
After seeing Dimitar mixed in a sigh, as if guessing his feelings, Lucius broached the subject.
「Costacurta-geika, the urgent matter with His Highness…what could it be?」
「Th, that…a, about the gauntlet which was in the enemy ringleader’s possession from the recent Seriba’s rebellion case…」
「Is there something that you should report to His Highness?」
「Th, there is! Well, if I had to say, there is, but how should I put it—」
「Which is it, Costacurta-geika?」
The taciturn Garido-kyou promptly urged the hesitant Valeria on.
However, the present Valeria didn’t have a plan to break down this impasse. She was sure there was none. If there was, would she not have keep on talking one-sidedly to the obstinate old man?
That was evident from Valeria looking at Dimitar occasionally since some time ago. It was obvious that her gaze was shouting 「Can’t you say something!」
Bowing reverently with his hand placed onto his chest, Dimitar immediately began spouting a pack of lies.
「—Costacurta-geika and I have faced that Hokon guy before. That is to say, the ones who know the gauntlet, which was used by that man, the best are currently Her Eminence and I」
「I suppose so」
「Based on that, I currently don’t think that Chief Engineer Albiol is the person who could have made that gauntlet」
「I’d like to hear your reason for that, Your Eminence」
The person who interfered at once wasn’t the crown prince, but Garido-kyou.
「Th, that—Richternach-kyou, explain to His Highness and minister-kakka」
Valeria probably didn’t know what Dimitar wanted to say, thus she diverted the topic to him.
「If I’ve to say it as it is…simply put, Chief Engineer Albiol has no talent for magic. Without the talent for magic, he can’t draw magic crests」
「…So, what is it that you wanted to say?」
「In short, for Chief Engineer to somehow make a tool, the cooperation of a magic warrior who can design magic crests is indispensable」
「Like I said! What’re you—」
The crown prince reined in the military minster who had raised his voice spontaneously.
「What Richternach-kyou meant to say is this.—For Hokon’s gauntlet to be completed, a person who can use the magic of erasing magic crests instantly is necessary」
「That’s correct…However, does a magic warrior who can use such convenient magic exists in reality?」
「As far as I know, there isn’t. There’s no information of such magic being used in other cases either」
Lucius replied immediately. His words were well-founded since his mother was the director of the Royal Magic Academy (Furigana: プフサ・マレフイコス).
「Then it’s unjustified as expected. If the magic crest that served as its (gauntlet’s) basis doesn’t exist, it’s impossible for Chief Engineer to create such thing however much he wanted to」
Garido-kyou couldn’t come up with any refuting words and furrowed his brows deeper.
Hearing the words of Dimitar who was in front of the vase of roses, the crown prince removed his gloves and said to Quique.
「—That being the case, Chief Engineer Albiol. My apologies for suspecting you」
「Not at all, if your point of view is taken into account, then it’s a justified judgement. Besides, I can’t say anything concerning magic crests since the actual thing isn’t here, but it’s apparent that gauntlet was created by means of magic engineering」
The crown prince then leaned forward and asked.
「I’d like your candid opinion but, do you not know of another person besides you who can make such thing?」
「It’s likely that whichever country it may be, this sort of research is in progress, albeit different in degree, is what I think. —However, I’ve no connection whatsoever with the fellow researchers of that side, so I’ve no clue who you mean」
「Do you mean to say you’ve no knowledge of who it may be?」
「Well, there’s just one person but」
「Who is it?」
「In truth, there’s a person named Nereida who continued to research with me in my workshop, but five years ago, She left Amaddo in pursue for better research environment」
(TN: The noun used to refer to Nereida doesn’t specify the gender, but I denote her as a she after reading the next few pages.)
「Saying she left Amaddo, in short, she was headhunted?」
「I believe that’s likely to be the case…At any rate, it’s due to an unsatisfactory amount of budget being allocated to my workshop」
Quique looked at Garido-kyou repeatedly from across his monocle. Finding the sight of the military minister’s face turning bright red yet unable to say anything to be comical, Dimitar faced down and laughed.
The crown prince let out a sigh and looked at Garido-kyou.
「Since our country originally has numerous magic warriors, I can understand why the expansion of artificial magic war potential is apathetic but…still, isn’t it unpleasant if such intellect goes to other countries? If that’s the case, it’s necessary to distribute the budget even more precisely」
「Then, Chief Engineer」
Replacing the crown prince, Lucius asked.
「Where’s that Nereida person now?」
「She had only sent me a letter once」
「Last autumn. It was a letter of invitation to research together again, but naturally, I declined. —I don’t know her exact location, but it seems to be in Biranoba at that time」
「Hey, just a minute」
While watching the crown prince, Lucius and even Garido-kyou discussing something, Valeria whispered softly into Dimitar’s ear.
「When he said Biranoba, he meant that Biranoba? Our neighbour?」
「I guess so」
Biranoba was a signatory of the “Holy Alliance” (Furigana: りか·サントウレアール) and a neighbour that had prosperous exchange with Amaddo. Based on that alone, it was hard to think that Biranoba would lure an Amaddo army researcher away, yet the thought of them being capable of anything existed too.
「——Ah, Valeria-jou? And Richternach-kyou too」
Having finished the discussion, the crown prince addressed the pair with an extremely relaxed tone.
「I wonder if the both of you can go on a trip for me?」
「I asked if it’s possible for you to travel to Biranoba」
「Strictly speaking, it won’t be just the two of you.—In any case, only you two had seen that gauntlet, isn’t there the phrase “your ship had already embarked (point of no return)”? There’re also various coordination which’re essential, but for now, can you begin preparation for departure?」
「You can’t? Even though I tentatively have the discretionary power since Father’s currently absent and it’s an official command from a senior inspector (Furigana: センソール マヨール)?」
「Er, well, it’s not like I can’t—」
「Then it’s settled. Thank you. And Chief Engineer Albiol too」
Summarising his talk with a gentle clap of hands, the crown prince once again spoke to Dimitar and Valeria after ordering Quique to leave the room.
「Valeria-jou, if I recall, Karin Rudbeck who is of similar age as you has relatives in Biranoba right?」
「Ah…I heard that her maternal grandmother was born there」
「Then it’s decided…You’ve no complaints right, Garido-kyou?」
「…Since His Majesty has yet to return, we’ll abide by Your Highness’s sanction」
Although he said that, displeasure was plainly written on the minister’s face. It wasn’t clear why, but it was likely that the development wasn’t amusing to Garido-kyou.
「Valeria-jou and Karin-jou are to head towards Biranoba as soon as preparations are completed」
「As goodwill ambassadors to Biranoba…is it?」
It wasn’t a rare case for Dominas, who were wives of Reduntra (レドウントラ), to visit another country as a country-representing envoy. Hence it was natural that Valeria had such thought upon hearing the crown prince’s proposal.
「Nay, not as the country’s representatives, I want you to go under the guise of Rudbeck-jou visiting her relatives till the end. If we do that, then even if some problem arise, it’ll be hard for it to develop into a serious trouble between countries」
It was a rational decision yet it seemed really like His Highness to omit the official stance and say his true intention directly. Sure enough, Valeria who had heard that didn’t know how to reply and could only show a complicated smile.
「If that Nereida person really did make that aforementioned gauntlet, then there’s a likelihood that Biranoba was involved in the Seriba’s rebellion. Secretly investigating such a thing will be an important mission. Will you do it?」
「Un, understood. I’ll put in my utmost effort」
Valeria breathed deeply and agreed. In any case, for this girl who desperately wanted to stack up achievements, it was impossible for her to reject such important mission after hearing it.
Of course, for Dimitar too, no matter how many such chances present themselves, he wouldn’t feel troubled. Raising the corners of his lips secretly, Dimitar left the crown prince’s presence together with Valeria.
When the pair returned to the garden in front of the royal palace, Quique Albiol was waiting for them with Bettina clinging onto his waist.
「What a misfortune huh, Ossan」
「Iya, absolutely. Furthermore, for troubling even Her Eminence Costacurta, I’m really sorry」
Quique grasped the head of Bettina who was still sniffling and gave a bow. That was his own way of paying respect to Valeria, but having said that, he didn’t pay too much attention to formalities. Having become accustomed to Dimitar’s insolence and Bettina’s over-familiarity, Valeria didn’t take offence to Quique’s attitude.
While holding onto the hem of her dress beneath the tabard lightly, Valeria gave a bow and then asked Quique.
「I shall ask you bluntly since you’re here, but Chief Engineer didn’t really make that gauntlet, did you?」
「I presume that thing gave you considerable troubles?」
Quique took out a khsier from the bosom of his wrinkled-up white robe and gave it a light shake. At that moment, a red light lit up with a “poun” in its bowl. It was probably an item Quique created by means of magic engineering.
Inhaling the smoke once with a “fuka”, Quique nodded.
「—Ma, it’s theoretically feasible, but it’s impossible in reality. This was said just now but, it might be somehow possible if a magic warrior, who can use the magic to instantly erase spell crests, exists and his cooperation is obtained」
Magic that erased spell crests existed. It was used primarily to deprive magic warriors who had committed crimes of their magic; nonetheless it couldn’t erase spell crests instantly. At best, its speed was almost the same as drawing spell crests, and if it’s to the degree of erasing bit-by-bit, then he had heard about it.
「…On the contrary, I want to ask if that gauntlet actually exist?」
Dimitar replied earlier than Valeria.
「This person included, but I’ve clearly seen it.—Rather, even you can verify that the spell crests engraved onto Jagieruka’s blade have disappeared completely right? It suffered damages from that gauntlet you know?」
(TN: Dimitar used the rude こいつ to refer to Valeria.)
「In the case of metal, there’s the possibility of them (spell crests) being abraded due to heat. I won’t believe it unless I see the actual thing」
「That reminds me… I wonder why was it not found?」
Hokon had spent his final moment inside the blazing mansion. Therefore, the gauntlet in question should have been recovered by searching every nook and cranny of the fire-devastated ruins.
「Didn’t it become a problem because it wasn’t found?」
「Hokon’s burnt corpse was discovered」
Censuring Quique’s remarks, Dimitar continued.
「…But the gauntlet wasn’t on Hokon’s hand. His corpse had retained its original form despite how strong the flames might have been, so it’s inconceivable for the gauntlet which is made of metal to melt without leaving any trace.—That being the case, I can only think of someone taking it away」
「Bearing that in mind, His Highness seems to think that Hokon had a collaborator. Different from Bigerou (ビゲロウ), it’s surely someone who can manipulate dangerous magic」
Dimitar asked with a pensive look on his face.
「What kind of person is that Nereida? She shouldn’t have been around when I started going in and out of your place right?」
「Come to think of it, I also don’t know that person」
Bettina agreed with Dimitar’s words. If it was five years ago, then she was still an eight years old child. For a child lacking discernment to come and go, Quique’s workshop was too much of a danger.
「If she’s still alive, she should be around thirty now. I also don’t know her detailed background very well」
「I’m amazed you did an important research with such a person」
「That’s because it was a research which wasn’t given a budget. There was no reason to decline her assistance. Above all, she was capable.—However, if I think about it now, perhaps that woman’s intention from the start was to steal my research」
「That person…is a woman?」
「Nereida is her given name, Your Eminence. She’s a considerably beautiful woman with long black hair. Though I can only describe her outward appearance characteristic to that extent…」
「If it’s in Biranoba, black hair might not be common. For now, we can only search with that as a clue」
「Isn’t that similar to catching clouds?—」
Feeling fatigued ever since coming out, Valeria sighed.
However, if she considered this as a chance to do a meritorious deed, it was a beneficial talk. Besides, it was plausible there were various perquisites.
「—Then Richternach’s kyou, carry out the preparations without any mistake」
Ordering Dimitar so, Valeria began her way back home.
Different from her previous mission, this mission—though definitely an absolute secret—didn’t require her to conceal her social status or do nothing but hasten; to be a Dominas till the end but hiding her true objective and head towards Biranoba.
「In short, it’s an official elegant trip right?」
Valeria mixed in a mutter while humming.
She was sure that there will be three meals per day and a nap upon arriving at Biranoba, and a party will be held nightly to warmly welcome them. Needlessly to say, she shouldn’t forget that this was the crown prince’s imperial command but if it was within the scope of forgiveness, wouldn’t it be fine to enjoy herself, or so Valeria thought.
Hence Valeria summoned Nei and Maru who were her childhood friends as well as housemaids when she returned to the mansion and began selecting a dress.
「Are you going to Biranoba?」
「Yes…Ma, Karin seems to be tagging along as an extra though」
Opening the closet, Valeria skimped through the variety of dresses from one end to another.
During missions or ceremonies, she was obligated to wear the tabard and dress bestowed by the king; hence she wanted to wear something she liked on such times.
Recently, Valeria had finally removed the band-aid on her forehead, and her father Borha (ボルハ) peered wonderingly into the room.
「What’s the matter, Valeria? It’s unusual for you to put on and off one dress after another」
「It doesn’t matter right? It’s unrelated to Chichi-ue after all」
Holding the dress against her chest, she spun around repeatedly before the full-length mirror and replied rudely.
Although the other party is her blood relative, she can’t talk about the top secret mission’s details carelessly. And even if she didn’t, as a result of her thoughtlessly saying that she was going on a top secret mission previously, her father had intruded into Lucius’s place and caused an inconvenience.
Therefore Valeria was absolutely resolved not to speak of this time mission.
「Well? Is a dance scheduled to be held in someone’s mansion? I’ve heard talks of extravagant events being kept in check temporarily due to the recent Seriba’s case though」
「Although His Majesty mustn’t return from his lover’s place, there’s no need for self-restraint right? If His Majesty return in the near future, a very lavish victory celebration will be held in the royal palace, so shouldn’t I devote myself into making a new dress?」
That celebration’s protagonist was obviously Valeria and she had already ordered a dress.
Nonetheless, no matter how she thought about it, she knew that it wouldn’t be fun to be swamped with the guests’ greetings on the appointed day. Hence, for this mission where she was the carefree invitee, Valeria intended to find room for enjoyment at any cost.
「Then why’re you choosing dresses?」
「…You’re fussing over every detail」
Valeria gave an exasperating sigh and turned around to face her father.
「I’m just accompanying Karin since she’s visiting her relatives’ place in Biranoba. That’s enough so don’t meddle」
「What!? You’re going to Biranoba!? How come I didn’t hear of such thing!」
「Isn’t that obvious? This’s the first time I mentioned it. By the way, I’ll still go even if you say not to okay? Since I’m ultimately the head of this family, there’s no reason for me to be instructed by Chichi-ue on every detail」
「I know that…But Biranoba?…And if I’m not wrong, Karin is the Rudbeck House’s daughter?」
「What about it?」
「That means her relatives must be a fairly distinguished family.—Alright, go for it, my daughter!」
「Like I said, I’ll still go without you telling me—」
「Though it’s a small country, Biranoba has a long-standing history. If it’s with that distinguished family, you might attain quite a social status. And you seem to be getting ready to attend a party by the looks of it. Now, go forth and capture a son of that good family be it the second or third son!」
Borha abruptly told Valeria to set off and began pushing her back, but it was expected if she thought about it. In short, he probably meant for her to go and search for a husband. Astonishment and anger welled up simultaneously, causing Valeria to throw the dress in her hands towards Nei.
「—There’s no reason for me to search for a husband right!? I wish you’d stop bringing up that topic in each and every thing!」
「I’m not saying that you’ve to get a husband immediately. But for the nine years later, while you still can—」
「Be it now or nine years later, I don’t want to hear such talks from you! I don’t live for the sake of giving birth to a heir!」
「N, no, I don’t—」
「It’s because you’re my guardian that I allowed you to stay in this mansion, but I can still carry on living even if I’m alone. If you’re to complain any more than this, can you please go home, Chichi-ue? For the dowry, I can give it to you now with all the interest included!」
The Costacurta House was in great decline during Valeria’s grandfather’s generation, but it recovered thanks to the vast amount of dowry that Borha had prepared when he was adopted into the family. As one would expect, a person who’d say such things to Valeria didn’t exist anymore, but her grandfather at that time was backbitten for selling his daughter to a merchant for money.
It was an old story whereby such grandfather and mother were already deceased, but Valeria still loathe her grandfather who treated her mother as a transaction’s material, and she couldn’t bring herself to like the father who had bought his way into this family.
Due to that, Valeria couldn’t stop herself from opposing her father who’d badger her to get a husband immediately.
Looking at the back of her father leaving the room despondently over the mirror, Valeria expelled her anger quietly.
Nei who was helping Valeria to choose a dress spoke with a indescribable expression.
「Danna-sama doesn’t think of Ojou-sama as a tool for giving birth to a heir—」
「Ne—i! Enough of that talk already!」
For unintentionally chastising even Nei, Valeria silently fell into self-loathing.
Eventually, it was arranged for Dimitar and party to depart for Biranoba one week later. Karin Rudbeck probably had to send a letter to her relatives during that period to schedule for a visit. Though they weren’t visiting as the country’s representatives, the other side still need to prepare adequately to welcome the the pair of Dominas.
In any case, the coordinating role wasn’t Dimitar’s job under those circumstances. His duty was to act as the party’s escort until the end. It’d be better if his turn didn’t come, but depending on the situation, there might be a time when he have to act as a spy. Perhaps on that occasion, Dimitar would have to dirty his hands.
「…—For the time being, I want you to hear this but」
Giving a sidelong glance towards Bettina who was running around inside the workshop with a “gashon gashon” and consolidating the luggage, Dimitar asked Quique.
「If by chance that woman named Nereida was really involved in the Seriba’s rebellion, she’ll be a wanted man of Amaddo」
「I’m sure she’ll be」
Quique replied disinterestedly while cleaning the bowl of his khiser with a piece of twisted paper.
「—There’s a possibility I’ll have to kill that woman, even so you’re fine with that?」
「Is this a talk about seeking my permission?」
「If you’ve an irreplaceable relationship with that woman, I’m thinking of apologising」
「Oi oi, don’t speak of such things in front of a child」
Quique stuffed leaves of shredded tobacco into the bowl again, lit a fire and then knitted his brows.
「Is she not your daughter, I wonder?」
「I took custody of her and raised her up so she’s like a daughter to me」
「Is that so? You’ve strange tastes」
(TN: こら; use to reprove or scold someone.)
「Setting aside the topic of Gacha Pink」
Dimitar stood up from the chair by the window.
「—Since you don’t mind, then I won’t hold back against her. It’s easier that way. Is there something else?」
「By something else, you mean?」
「…For example, she’s in fact a master of great swordsmanship or an expert in magic?」
「I’ve never seen her use sword or magic before…But, she’s fairly knowledgeable so she might have conceal the fact that she can use magic 」
「Saying that you felt she had conceal it, are you feeling that woman is suspicious to some extent?」
Quique didn’t answer Dimitar’s question. As though he had never heard that question, he gazed out of the window and puffed out smoke.
Honestly, even Dimitar couldn’t grasp this oddball’s real intention. From the start, he was a man who turned his back on promotion and fame, only immersing himself in the researches that he wanted to do. Being detached from the world, the authenticity of the things he spoke of couldn’t be measured.
Dimitar held Jagieruka’s hilt in his left hand and released a sigh.
「—Gacha Pink, it’s time to go」
With the luggage fastened onto the back of her small and stout body, Bettina bowed to her uncle with a “pekori”.
「—Well then Oji-sama, this Bettina will now head out to dispel Oji-sama’s regrets」
「Oi, stop that way of speaking. It’s like I’ve died of an unnatural death」
For a moment, Quique smiled wryly at his niece who had mistaken the usage of those words and then tapped his khiser on the ashtray’s edge.
「…Maa, I think Dii knows it perfectly, but still the both of you, be careful not to leak confidential information okay?」
「Yeah, I’ll keep a close watch」
Sent off by Quique, Dimitar and Bettina left the workshop behind them.
「I’m convinced that I know what kind of person Valeria-sama is already, but what kind of person is that Karin-sama who will be travelling with us this time desu? 」
「Don’t ask me. I haven’t meet her yet」
「Is that so desu? But, she’s surely a pretty person since she’s chosen as a Dominas right?」
「I guess so. She seems quite competent. Probably the calm and cool prodigy type…That our Eminence (Valeria) is above that person (Karin), I can’t believe it for a moment」
「If she’s above Karin-sama who is a prodigy, then, Valeria-sama is a genius desune!」
「Rather than genius…that person is a natural airhead. She’s the type who doesn’t give a damn about magic theories and cut her way through everything with instinct or intuition」
Slightly winkling up his brows, Dimitar shut his mouth upon seeing a carriage parked inside the Royal Magic Academy’s backyard. There were already three girls and Lucius standing beside the carriage.
Noticing Dimitar’s party, Valeria flourished her hat that was adorned with feathers and raised her voice. Since this time was publicly a personal trip, Valeria wasn’t in her Dominas ceremonial clothes of a dress beneath a tabard, but a gorgeous orange dress typical of a noble’s daughter.
「You’re late—it’s rude to keep us waiting!」
「Ma ma, Valeria-jou, since this is a long-awaited trip…」
When Lucius soothed her so, Valeria turned towards him with a flower-like smile and nodded.
「If Lucius-sama says so…hai ♪」
「Dii, you should have come slightly earlier」
「I’ve arrived in time」
Confirming the time on the clock tower, Dimitar said so.
「—If you’ve any complaints, it’d have been fine if you specified the time five minutes earlier from the start」
When Valeria opened her mouth angrily, the bell signalling noon began to chime. Thereupon losing her timing, Valeria instead inhaled a large breath and snorted with a “funn!” and faced away.
Lucius shrugged his shoulders lightly and introduced the remaining pair of girls to Dimitar.
「—Dii, these’re Karin Rudbeck-geika and her exclusive crest officer, Petra Rudbeck-jou」
「Your fame is widely known」
Since Karin and Valeria were on intimate terms, it was likely that Karin had already heard about Dimitar’s personality. It was futile to take on a courteous behaviour now, but since Lucius was nearby, perhaps it might be better to give a neat greeting in the beginning at least.
「I’m Dimitar Richternach, Your Eminence」
Dimitar placed his right hand on his chest, bend his back slightly and bowed.
The beauty with bluish grey hair—Karin Rudbeck looked at Dimitar who was much taller than her sincerely.
This girl was probably much more prudent and cautious than Valeria. Trying to see through her opponent’s feelings without revealing her emotions—as though appraising him, was what Dimitar thought as he took on such an indifferent gaze.
「…Pleased to meet you, Richternach-kyou」
After plenty of time had passed, Karin greeted Dimitar.
「Though we may give you trouble one way or another, I look forward to working with you, Richternach-kyou」
Pushing up her glasses, Petra Rudbeck smiled sweetly. Though Karin and Petra were cousins of similar age, it felt rather unnatural to Dimitar that Petra was lavishing smiles as if she was the uncivil younger cousin.
Although this and that weren’t things that he could publicise, Dimitar lightly struck the head of Bettina who was loading the brought luggage onto the carriage’s rear,
「…She’s the army’s Chief Engineer Albiol’s niece and Costacurta-geika’s attendant, Bettina Albiol. She’ll be accompanying on this trip as an escort together with me」
「Be, Bettina desu! Pleased to meet you~」
Replying indifferently, Karin turned towards Lucius.
「…Then vice-leader, we’ll depart now」
「Yes, please take care」
Borrowing Lucius’s hand, Valeria and party boarded the carriage.
Lucius whispered softly to Dimitar who was confirming that their luggage was fastened securely.
「I think this goes without saying but, the pair (Karin and Valeria)’s safety—」
「I know. Other than that, isn’t it natural to bring a bit more attendants along?」
It was a luxury for four people to get on a two-horse carriage, but if the Dominas pair that Amaddo was proud of was to set off for a foreign trip, they ought to bring alongside an additional dozens of attendants or escorts.
Even if it was publicly a personal trip, to be able to count the numbers of attendants with one hand, it was indeed too few.
「There’s that but…the other side said it wasn’t necessary」
「The other side?」
「Rudbeck-geika’s grandmother’s home—Valiente House wishes for them to come by themselves as they’ll prepare everything necessary」
「…Is that a usual correspondence?」
「I think it’s tactful way of expressing something but…maa, recklessly taking attendants along will become a responsibility there, and in the worst case, your burdens may increase」
Lucius murmured with a lowered voice. Though it wasn’t clear what Valeria and Karin were thinking, but at least Lucius seemed to have taken into consideration the possibility of it becoming that sort of thing.
「—Anyway, take care and go」
The girls had boarded the carriage but without a coachman, the carriage wouldn’t move. Hence, Dimitar sat on the coachman’s pedestal and picked up the bridles.
「Um~, what’s the best thing for me to do…?」
「It’ll be cramped if you get inside and the three preceding visitors might cry…You shall be next to me. Put on your mantle so you won’t be conspicious」
Dimitar waited for Bettina to climb proddingly onto the coachman’s pedestal and stuck the bridle with a snap.
End of Chapter 1